Anyone who has travelled around Bengaluru knows that it takes 90 minutes to cover an eight-km distance during peak hours. This has impacted its growth and perception as a city for business. Taking a dig at the State government, Azim Premji, Chairman of Wipro Group, and Narayana Murthy, Chairman Emeritus of Infosys, said that Bengaluru needed an infrastructure overhaul. "I request the State government to make the city liveable," Murthy said.
At the same time, both leaders lauded the government's ability to identify great businesses. Not many know the fact that Infosys grew on a small loan provided by the Industrial Development Corporation of Karnataka in 1983. Narayana Murthy commended the Karnataka government for supporting Infosys when it was nothing but a small company.
"Many MNC banks declined us a loan and it was the State government who bet on our idea," he said,adding that the loan came to the company in a week, with no bureaucracy hold-ups of KSSIDC supporting the company.
"All politicians and officers supported us over the years," he added.
Azim Premji agreed on infrastructure development for prosperity. Wipro is adding 25,000 engineers this year and so are other IT services companies. It is no wonder, therefore, that both leaders wanted Bengaluru freed of its bottlenecks. "Bengaluru has a very strong science background and it needs all the investment to improve infrastructure help," said Premji.
Their other grouse was that Karnataka was not about Bengaluru alone. "Why should young people aspire to work in Bengaluru? There are many other good cities in Karnataka. The government should focus on getting students to work in new cities," said Murthy. Infosys has spread its workforce across Mysore, Mangaluru and Hubli.
According to NASSCOM, Bengaluru contributes to 38 per cent of the IT industry's total revenues. The total value of IT from Karnataka is $35 billion, of which $27 billion are exports. Karnataka is possibly is one of the fastest growing economies in the country with a GDP growth of seven per cent.
Despite their impressive growth, it isn't just IT giants who receive support from the government. Speaking of how the Aditya Birla Group has grown, Kumar Mangalam Birla said that Karnataka has been a stronghold of their group.
Anil Ambani was all praise for Bengaluru's aerospace industry. He added that Bengaluru has always been a hotbed for defence activity but now it will leapfrog to a different level with so many other industries coming in.
"We will be setting up a world-class aerospace research centre at Whitefield in Bengaluru. This centre will bring focus on defence research and development by participating with other manufacturing in India," he said.
Ambani's announcement was only matched by Gautam Adani. To ensure that the State has great infrastructure to fuel its growth, the Adani Group is expanding its Udupi power plant, focussing on its oil refinery at Malur Karnataka and will be setting a 1,000-megawatt power plant in the State. It will also be investing Rs 2,000 crore for port development in north Karnataka.